The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

Robin § Sooo / 2014-08-21 20:47:35
Tim § Sooo / 2014-08-21 18:23:13
Gavin § Sooo / 2014-08-21 18:10:44
Robin § Sooo / 2014-08-21 18:06:14
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32
Anne Field § The booster pack / 2014-02-15 16:15:39
Josh Rubenoff § The booster pack / 2014-02-09 04:29:20
David Lang § The right flavor of fame / 2014-02-07 15:13:49
Robin § The booster pack / 2014-02-06 16:41:42
Navneet Alang § The booster pack / 2014-02-06 03:40:31

Dappled
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I am a sucker for a sun-dappled sidewalk, and it occurs to me that dappling is actually a pretty specific effect. You’ve seen images like this before: here’s a good look (with bonus Impressionist rendition). Overlapping tree-branches become cameras; how weird and how cool.

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In ’92, I think, there was an annular eclipse of the sun in Chicago. I went to the lakefront with some sort of box-with-a-pinhole hack of a viewer, but couldn’t get it to work. And then I looked around and noticed that all the dapples of sunlight had bites out of them, turning into dancing rings. It’s pleasant to be reminded of that moment.

Edward Tufte has a nice little thing on dappled light, instancing what sounds like a lovely book—M. G. J. Minnaert, Light and Color in the Outdoors—as well as the “Pools of Light” pattern in Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language.

Oh, right! That Minnaert book Tufte mentions is the one mentioned at Absurdly Certain, too.

Yup, and the Minnaert book is great, but pretty ad hoc; it essentially reads like a journal of notes jotted down on walks in the woods and town.

I strongly recommend Lynch and Livingston’s Color and Light in Nature as a much more organized and polished presentation of the same general topics that Minnaert covered. It’s currently out of print and often listed for >$100, but if you set up an alert you can usually get the paperback 2nd edition for <$50.

Minnaert: “Good sun-pictures are to be found in the shade of beeches, lime-trees, and sycamores, but seldom in that of poplars, elms, and plane-trees.”

Huh, in America “sycamore” and “plane-tree” are the same tree, so I guess Minnaert must be referring to the European “sycamore”, which is really a maple. Still, kind of mysterious to me why one would work well and not the other; they have similar leaves, and I can’t remember the form being particularly different either.

And the lime-tree is typically called linden or basswood in North America, and has leaves not unlike that of the poplar. I think it’s just a wonderful and funny observation, this hint of an arborial dappled connoisseurship, regardless of the veracity of the claim. Too bad the Livingston is out of print; it’s on Google Books in limited preview.

I have a standing alert on half.com so let me know if you want me to send you a copy :). I’m curious about these tree differences now; maybe it is the growth form that makes the difference. Minnaert has another section talking about how dense a forest has to be to block out direct sunlight entirely. Will check it out.

If it’s an arborial dappling prejudice then that’s even more charming somehow.

“Arborial dappling”—oh NICE!

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